Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino score crucial away goals as Liverpool dump Manchester City out of Europe.
Score: Manchester City 1-2 Liverpool (agg 1-5)
Goalscorers: Gabriel Jesus 2′; Mohamed Salah 55′, Roberto Firmino 76′
Liverpool have stormed their way into the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League with a 2-1 win over Manchester City in the second leg and thus ending Pep Guardiola’s European dreams.
Overcoming a 3-0 deficit from the first leg was always going to be a task for City but they started the game in the best possible fashion when Gabriel Jesus scored one just after 117 seconds. After that, it was a one-way road for the Cityzens as Guardiola’s men made innumerable attacks on Liverpool’s goal in the first half.
But call it City’s profligacy or Liverpool’s resilient defending, the Reds held on and then scored two vital away goals to clinch the match and subsequently the tie. Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, Liverpool’s usual suspects, got on the scoresheet and ensured their side’s passage into the top four.
The second leg was as exciting as the first one with referee Mateu Lahoz dominating the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Pep Guardiola was sent off at the break for over appealing against a controversial decision.
A lot has to be discussed in this gigantic European fixture which we will do in the form of analyzing the five major talking points that emerged from the game:
#5 City domination in the first half
When City’s lineup was out, it took some time to get used to the idea that Guardiola was trying to implement. City played with only three recognized defenders with Fernandinho shielding them. Two blocks of three forwards followed them in what was a strange but solid setup by the City manager.
It meant that City used width more effectively, stretched Liverpool’s midfield and created more openings in the final third. The tactics bore fruit as the hosts scored one in the second minute itself. A barrage of attacks followed with City not giving Liverpool any time on the ball.
It was evident that City were up to the task. Ederson recycled the ball as quickly as possible, the ball boys were also getting in on the act as City completely dominated Liverpool.
But for all of their brilliant work in the first half, City had just one goal to show for it which ultimately proved to be their undoing.
19 – Goalkeeper Loris Karius attempted the most passes of any Liverpool player in the first half vs Man City (19). Pressured.
#4 Refereeing decisions dominate the proceedings
Manchester City had a mountain to climb in the second leg if they were to overcome Liverpool’s massive first-leg advantage. But their task was made all the more difficult, not by Liverpool, but by referee Mateu Lahoz.
The Spanish official had previously been criticized by Pep Guardiola when he awarded Napoli a penalty against City in the group stage. In this game, Lahoz made some huge calls which not only affected the game but also resulted in City’s ouster from the Champions League.
Leroy Sane’s goal that was ruled offside had, in fact, touched James Milner on its way to the German. It was a terrible call which could have otherwise given City a 2-0 lead at the break. Two penalty shouts for Raheem Sterling were waved on by the referee with the second of those looking a bit controversial.
Lahoz also did not see Sterling’s foul on Van Dijk in the first half and was too soft in awarding bookings. He then sent off Guardiola at the break for over complaining after facing the City manager’s fury. The Spaniard had a night to forget, with his disallowed goal being the major turning point of the match.